University of Delaware
A special logo will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the University of Delaware's establishment of America's first study abroad program, which launched a new movement in international education.

Study abroad anniversary

University to celebrate 90th anniversary of study abroad, a UD innovation


11:13 a.m., Jan. 15, 2013--The University of Delaware launched America’s first study abroad program on July 7, 1923, when a group of eight Delaware students set sail for France aboard the ocean liner Rochambeau.

That inaugural class would spend junior year in France immersed in learning the French language and culture — in the classroom, on travels to historic sites and in the homes of the gracious French families with whom they stayed. All of the students successfully completed their studies, and two would even win the Sorbonne’s coveted diploma of French civilization.

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The program was the brainchild of Raymond W. Kirkbride, a young professor in the modern languages department and a World War I veteran, who presented the idea to Walter Hullihen, then-UD president, who enlisted the support of private donors, including Pierre S. du Pont, to finance it.

The University of Delaware’s program was hailed nationally and internationally for its success in promoting cross-cultural education, and soon, other colleges and universities began sending students to UD to participate, including Wellesley, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Smith, Harvard and Princeton, to name a few.

Throughout 2013, the University of Delaware will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the genesis of its study abroad program, an innovation that rapidly entered into international education practice.

“The University of Delaware made an important mark on international education 90 years ago that has since benefited countless students across the United States and overseas,” said Nancy Guerra, associate provost for international programs and director of the Institute for Global Studies (IGS). “We invite the University community and friends around the world to celebrate this milestone with us throughout the year.” 

An exciting array of activities and events has been planned, according to Lisa Chieffo, associate director for study abroad, who is coordinating efforts with departments across campus. Here’s a sampling:

  • The 1,044 UD students currently studying abroad, and at various domestic locations around the U.S., are sporting special 90th anniversary commemorative buttons. Learn about their global adventures through UD’s popular “Dare to Explore” feature on social media.
  • Rick Steves, noted travel author and host of the PBS program Rick Steves’ Europe, will present a public lecture on Monday, March 11, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Mitchell Hall.
  • The UDairy Creamery will unveil an intriguing new flavor to recognize the anniversary.
  • UD’s next Global magazine will include a special feature on the program’s history through the eyes of some of its participants over the years.
  • Xiang Gao, Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music, will recognize the anniversary in his iMusic VI program, “The Languages of the World,” set for April 19 and 20.
  • Special activities and recognition for study abroad alumni will be featured at Alumni Weekend, May 31-June 2, as well as online during the year.
  • A 90th anniversary logo, designed by the UD Office of Communications and Marketing, is available for use by the UD community. Visit this website for more information.

Today, UD remains a national leader in study abroad, ranking third among doctoral institutions in student participation, at nearly 35 percent. Currently, 50 study abroad programs are under way, from Costa Rica to Cambodia, led by faculty directors from all seven UD colleges. 

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